Sunday, April 21, 2024

Broadway: Uma Thurman Shows She Has the Chops in a Watery New Play from “House of Cards” Writer


Don’t get me wrong– I really like Beau Willimon’s writing. “Ides of March” is a terrific movie. The first few seasons of “House of Cards” are excellent.

But now Willimon has brought “The Parisian Woman” to Broadway and it’s — eh, sort of like a “House of Cards” re-tread that doesn’t work. But the good news is — and I will fight anyone on this– Uma Thurman has a real stage presence. Even though this play doesn’t work, Uma will be back. She has stature, the voice, and she is funny.

In “The Parisian Woman”– the title remains inexplicable, she’s basically playing scheming Clairet Underwood, Robin Wright’s character on “Cards.” She’s a kind of Lady MacBeth, scheming to get her husband (Josh Lucas, very engaging) a position in the Trump administration. To do this, Uma’s  Chloe is having affairs (hetero and lesbian) to gain leverage over various people. This includes Peter, played by Martin Csokas, who bears a close resemblance to Kevin Spacey (Claire’s husband, Francis).

You can’t blame Willimon. “House of Cards” is on his mind. It’s hard to separate from your great creation. Unfortunately, “The Parisian Woman” lives in the shadow of the TV series. It’s also poorly directed or not directed at all by Pam McKinnon. It feels as though she just handed out the script, put out some chairs and said to the cast, “Say these lines.” A little direction and work might have helped.

Anyway, Uma does fine. And she’s only going to get better and better after this debut. Shout out to Blair Brown, who’s damn good in everything. Phillippa Soo, Tony winner from “Hamilton” and late of “Amelie,” is lovely as always but she should be in a musical. Why deny us that voice?

In the audience: Brian D’Arcy James, Gretchen Mol and director husband Todd Williams, 94 year old legendary Lincoln Center producer Bernie Gersten, Debra Messing, Michael Kelly.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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